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Bodyboarding For Beginners

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 18 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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For those that think that surfing the wave is no longer exciting enough anymore then bodyboarding provides a loaded cannon full of head-dizzying new tricks and excitement on the water.

What is Bodyboarding?

Bodyboarding is wave surfing on a small semi rectangular and hydrodynamic board - once misleadingly known as a ‘boogie board’. It differs from traditional surfing in using a board that is much smaller and made from foam, and that is typically ridden lying down (‘prone’).

It can also be ridden in a position known as the ‘drop knee’, where the surfer is half-standing with one knee touching the board. The large majority of bodyboarders wear swim-fins on both feet to aid in controlling trajectory and speed whilst riding, paddling out and taking off.

Safe Beginnings

Beginners are wise to sign up for a short course before taking the plunge. Spending a few hours in the water with an instructor will give a good grounding in the basic skills and safety essentials and provide knowledge of the local rip currents and rides. Most surfing schools offer bodyboarding lessons.

First timers to the water are advised to begin by playing around in the white water (the shallow area of the sea, where broken waves form foaming water). The white water waves will have enough power to provide good practise in catching the first wave.

Keep Fit and Safe

In an activity governed by the unruly elements of wind and water it is important to be able to maintain a certain level of control, and so riders should be confident swimmers with good levels of strength and fitness.

Before entering the water boarders must perform warm up and stretch exercises if they want to prevent cramp whilst in the water and muscle aching the next morning.

Take Care Entering and Leaving the Water

Boarders should avoid entering the water in the presence of strong shore breaking waves, but instead should wait until the waves hitting the beach are small. Naturally they should also keep away from rocks and currents. Upon leaving the water, boarders should resist taking off their fins until safely on the shore.

Bodyboard in Company

Not only is it more fun to body board in the company of others but it also safer, especially for beginners. If any riders find themselves in trouble then a friend will be around to lend a hand. If there are no friends that share a passion for the sport, then surfing on a beach overlooked by the keen eyes of a lifeguard will provide an adequate alternative.

Heed Local Knowledge

The advice of experienced local surfers on the area’s sea conditions, potential dangers and hazardous spots is indispensable for novice riders and should be sought out before setting out.

Don’t Be Over Ambitious

The sea is a fierce and unforgiving place and it is not worth taking risks by trying to ride in conditions and over waves beyond the experience of the bodyboarder.

Prepare and Check Equipment

A leash is an essential feature of a bodyboard because it helps prevent rider and board being separated permanently. Therefore, before setting out, the leash should be checked to make sure it is attached to the board properly and also for signs of general wear and tear. The leash should always be coiled to prevent twists that could easily wrap around legs, neck or arms and prevent swimming.

As with most board watersports it is essential that the board is waxed regularly to prevent slipping whilst in the water.

Protect the Body

As body boarding largely involves lying front down on the board itself it is essential to protect the chest from rashes by either wearing a wet suit or a UV proof rash vest. The rest of the body should be protected from dangers of the sun by using a good quality waterproof sunblock.

Work Out the Wave Sets

It pays to spend around 10 to 15 minutes working out the wave sets – the depth and frequency the waves are breaking - before beginning to surf, as this will make catching them later on a much safer and easier process.

Stay Inside the Barrel

The barrel or tube is the hollow centre of a wave that appears when it is breaking. Whilst in the water and surfing the line it is good to always try and stay within this hollow as the wave closes as in most cases this will allow room for manoeuvre and make sure the lip of the wave does not land on top of the rider.

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